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Rugby Australia has allowed the Western Force a long-term Super Rugby deal – yet it may not be sufficient

Rugby Australia has allowed the Western Force a five-year Super Rugby licence, yet the West Australian franchise is pushing for a longer-term responsibility and greater commercial guarantee as a perpetual arrangement.

It comes as Crusaders manager Colin Mansbridge asked RA to think about perpetual licences, especially for the Force, saying they ought not to need to “give the keys back at every broadcast deal”.

Somewhat less than four years prior, the Western Force were incredibly cut from Super Rugby and in this way kept afloat by billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

The Force were invited to join a recently made Super Rugby AU competition in 2020, as a COVID-19 stopgap, and have since been invited once again into the quarrel.

The team, coached by Tim Sampson, will participate in its first finals match on Saturday, against the Brumbies in Canberra.

RA manager Andy Marinos traveled to Perth a week ago to meet with Force and Rugby WA authorities and put a five-year licence on the table that would run until the finish of 2026.

“The Western Force are over the moon to be offered a five-year licence and that’s been approved by the board,” Force chief executive Tony Lewis told the Herald.

Any remaining Australian franchises have been offered licences of a similar length, yet none, including the Force, have consented to terms right now.

Five Australian teams and five Kiwi sides are set to join in a redesigned trans-Tasman competition one year from now that will likewise have a Fiji and Pasifika presence.

The Force believe perpetual licences ought to be offered no matter how you look at it.

In recent years other Super Rugby teams, like the Waratahs and Queensland Reds, have signed new multi-year participation agreements. Be that as it may, being in traditional rugby heartland implies they are in no peril of being hacked out.

“Andrew Forrest invested heavily to keep rugby alive in WA, and we’re heavily motivated to be part of Australian rugby’s future,” Lewis said.

“The idea of every five years having to renegotiate when we’re being asked to invest in community rugby, academies, and invest in structures around our programs can make investors a little bit nervous.”

RA is adopting a pragmatic strategy, given its financial problem and that it can’t be sure what broadcast deal will be set up in 2026. RA is set to declare a significant deficiency at its annual general meeting on Thursday, with one source claiming the financial results, following a COVID-19 – intruded on the season in 2020, would be “ugly”.

The Force, in the interim, don’t want a repeat of 2017 when they were unloaded from the competition and don’t have any desire to be continually investigating their shoulder.

A valid example is the Crusaders. New Zealand’s best provincial rugby team was allowed a perpetual licence by New Zealand Rugby earlier this year. Others are at present negotiating comparative licences, which can open the door for new investment and commercial opportunities for franchises battling financially.

“If you were the Force, how would you feel if you’d invested all this money in development, only to find out that you get dragged from the competition and you’ve thrown a whole lot of money at an academy system? I think that’s relevant for the Force and the Rebels frankly,” Mansbridge told the Herald.

“For them to be viable and successful in the long-term, they have to throw money at development. You can’t just buy players. You have to have a system, but nobody can invest in a system if it’s not around in five years. I think [perpetual licences] are good for the game [because of] the certainty and clarity you get.

“Theoretically you give the keys back at every broadcast deal. It’s very hard to get people to think about growing the game locally and in the community … if you’re giving the keys back every five years.”

In the meantime, the Force and Brumbies have named their teams for the end of the week’s knockout final. Richard Kahui will wear the No.13 jersey for the Force without suspended centre Tevita Kuridrani, while Jake Strachan has been named at fullback given Rob Kearney is as yet sidelined with a groin injury.

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